How to Keep a Toddler Entertained on a Road Trip?

Road trips with a toddler, it can either be a fun filled adventure or pure hell on earth, there really is no in between. The key is to plan for your road trip ahead of time to ensure it’s a ball for both you and your toddler.

My family and I are experts on the road trip front, we take multiple road trips per month for my husbands work and we have nailed down what our little toddler needs in order to have a blast on our road trips. There are several aspects that need to be addressed to be sure that all your bases are covered when planning for a road trip.

How to entertain a toddler while on a road trip?

The key to keep a toddler entertained on a road trip is to bring the perfect toys, downloaded games, videos, and songs. Bring appropriate snacks, a few favorite books, and have planned pit stops. Letting your toddler stretch their legs every hour or two will go a long way towards their happiness.

The Complete Toddler Road Trip Entertainment Guide

To be sure that your road trip is a blast, check out my step by step overview of all the things that should be planned and brought so you can make it to your destination in one piece.

Car Friendly Toys

Taking a road trip means that we must be mindful in what we choose to pack and bring along in the vehicle, we only have so much room to pack things like toys. Being intentional about the toys that are brought is of utmost importance.

With that being said, have you ever heard of busy boards? Busy boards are pure genius, our daughter has one for home that she plays with for hours and with a quick search online I recently discovered that you can find travel friendly busy boards! This busy board is found off Amazon is perfect for travel.

These boards have several different activities and skills to discover which can keep toddlers entertained for a long period of time. Busy boards can be small but pack many different activities which is essential for road trips. These boards can be found on Amazon or if you want the busy board to be personalized for your child and have specific skills for your toddler there are many different options available on Etsy.

Another great option for car toys is finger puppets. Finger puppets take up minimal space and can provide hours of fun for any toddler. I typically will sit in the back of the car with my daughter for part of our road trip. This is when I will bring out the puppets and have fun making up stories with our daughter. Our daughter gets such a kick out of the animals telling her stories, it’s a ball. I will then let her put them on her fingers and watch her make up her own story. At twenty months old, it’s the cutest darn thing you will ever see! Check out our favorite finger puppets, they are darling and such a steal!

Lastly, Magnatabs are the neatest little compact toy ever! With Magnatabs your creating art with magnets. It’s recommended that your child be 3 or older before having a Magnatab but with supervision we allow our daughter to play with this toy in the car and she loves it! It’s kind of like the new version of etch and sketch and kids are crazy for it! Here is the Magnatab we got for our daughter.

I love that these three toys can also easily come into the hotel room with us and not create a chaotic mess in the contact space that were in. These three toys are the perfect trio for a successful road trip.

Download Games, Videos, and Songs

I highly recommend bringing an ipad or tablet on your road trip. Our daughter enjoys watching videos and playing games on my ipad. We try to limit the time that we allow her to veg out watching shows, but educational games are super enjoyable for toddlers.

We found the absolute best game and show program called Badanamu. The videos are available on Youtube and can be downloaded onto an ipad or tablet. They are enjoyable from newborn through toddlerhood. The Badanamu games are located in the app or play store and can be enjoyed from 18 months through toddlerhood.

When I say this is the best program for toddlers I mean it, our daughter could watch and play these games non stop for an entire day if we let her and we often find her saying “bada bada” because she wants to play her game. She has learned her shapes, letters, numbers, words, colors, and songs from Badanamu. It’s amazing how much of it she soaks in. If this program is not for you there are many other options available on the app or play store.

I recommend getting a child proof case for your device to ensure the device does not get damaged when your toddler is playing games. I also suggest getting a tablet mount for the car like the one we have. We place the ipad in the mount when our daughter is going to watch the Badanamu videos, that way the ipad is secured to the seat and in view for our daughter.

If you have bluetooth in your vehicle, download kids music onto your phone and have a sing a long. If bluetooth is unavailable children’s cds are also an option for a sing a long adventure.

Bring Appropriate Snacks for your Toddler

Snacking is great entertainment for toddlers. The problem with snacks is that they can create a huge mess in the car and typically are unhealthy. My goal when taking a road trip is to bring snack food that does not create a mess and is not completely unhealthy. I already feel bad that my toddler is sitting in the car for an extensive amount of time, I don’t need to also worry about all the junk she is eating.

Our favorite snack to  bring on road trips is veggie straws, the are not greasy and we never have problems with crumbs. Veggie straws are also much more nutritious than potato chips.

Our other favorite snacks for car rides are:

  • Fruit leathers (have wet wipes available for sticky fingers)
  • Cheese sticks
  • Cheerios or chex mix ( snack catchers are a necessity with cheerios so the cheerios don’t end up all over the car)
  • Frozen grapes (cut them in half for toddlers so they are not a choking hazard)
  • Soft dried apple and apricots
  • Pirates booty
  • Skippy peanut butter balls
  • Squeezable applesauce
  • Blueberries (put them in a snack catcher)

Our favorite snack catchers are these ones, they work like a charm for road trips!

Road Trip Books

Our daughter will read books in the car for hours, when I’m running errands and not on a road trip. I always bring along a book or two for our daughter, it occupies her and is educational as well, we never have a fussy toddler in our cars because of our book trick.

Reading to toddlers every day is essential, when we are traveling I already plan to bring books for the hotel for our daughter to read. The problem with most books is they can take up alot of space and end up all over the place. We enjoy bring kits of books that have a home and are compact.

We love this kit by Dr. Suess. These books are small and have a case to keep them in while travelling. They are perfect and so fun to read!

Plan out Pit Stops

Planning out your stops ahead of time is the best tip I can offer you. Toddlers need to get out of the car, sometimes as much as every hour. Fresh air and moving their legs is essential in ensuring that they are happy travelers. When pit stops are not planned out ahead of time you will miss out on stops that could be much more fun for you and your toddler than just stopping at a rest stop. For example, when we road trip to Oregon we stop at Maltnoma Falls and our daughter can run around and see a beautiful waterfall. Stopping at places like this is much more fun than a rest stop.

Before your trip, pull up google maps and research possible fun stops. Our family will try to find a fun place to stop every two hours, and plan out where we are going to eat. We may not need to stop every two hours if our daughter is sleeping for example, but that’s fine, we will pass that pit stop by and feel good knowing that we had the stopped planned if we needed it.

Make your stops fun for the whole family, and part of the trip that everyone can look forward too. When you have a toddler arriving somewhere quickly is non existant. Rushing, will simply put, cause you unneeded stress and disappointment when you have to stop because your little one needs a break.

Happy travels to you and your family, may it be full of fun and stress free!

Related Questions

How long can a toddler stay in a car seat?

Toddlers should not stay in a car seat for over 2.5 hours. They need to get out and move around their legs.